IOA Position Papers

Battle over Africa’s oceanic treasures

Surprisingly, no shots have been fired by African navies against foreign vessels that illegally plunder fish and undersea mineral resources from Africa’s territorial waters. However, as fish stocks diminish and African peoples’ understanding of the value of sea minerals grows, aggressive responses will replace government’s lackadaisical attitudes.

SOMALIA, Mogadishu: In a photograph taken 16 March 2013 and release by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team 18 March, traders wait to sell their fish inside Mogadishu's fish market in the Xamar Weyne district of the Somali capital. Every morning Mogadishu's fisherman bring their catch from the Indian Ocean ashore upon which it is quickly unloaded and transported to Xamar Weyne's lively and chaotic fish market where it is sold for consumption on the local market and increasingly, for export to other countries. Over the last two decades, instability on land has greatly restricted the development of the country's fishing industry, but now that Somalia is enjoying the longest period of sustained peace in over 20 years, there is large-scale potential and opportunity to harvest the bountiful waters off the Horn of Africa nation, which boasts the longest coastline in Africa. AU-UN IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE.
SOMALIA, Fishermen display their catch at a fish market in Mogadishu. Photo courtesy AMISOM/flickr

The scenario in which Mozambican, Namibian, Tanzanian and South African warships or boats from other African countries’ navies chase off or even fire upon an ever-growing fleet of foreign pirate ships is easy to imagine. No, the pirates are not the old-fashioned type that raid commercial vessels or kidnap ship crews or well-heeled guests on luxury yachts as is practiced off Somalia in East Africa and in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Rather, the invading armada is comprised of industrial-capacity vessels whose aim is to loot Africa’s aquatic natural resources.

In so doing, Chinese fishing ships decimate fisheries, rendering African fishermen who for generations have depended on the waters for their livelihoods unemployed and made fish expensive or unavailable to local markets and their customers who rely on fish for basic nutrition. Aquatic life is just one resource that is being looted. Mineral resources have also drawn pirates. Read more

IOA Redefining African Development Report

Meeting targets or creating change?

African nations are currently in the process of adopting two new ambitious and often overlapping development agendas: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – is an effort to confront global development challenges, while Agenda 2063 is a 50-year action plan launched by the African Union (AU) directed at addressing continent-specific issues.

With the international development agenda now set for the foreseeable future, ‘Redefining African Development’ explores the mixed success of the MDGs in Africa and investigates how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compare to their precursor, and how they overlap with the AU’s Agenda 2063. Specifically, the question of whether apolitical development agendas can fuel transformative change without equal focus on strengthening key institutions and expanding civil liberties and political freedoms.

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